Nov 22, 2014

Amos v New Brunswick Electric Power Commission

Amos v. New Brunswick Electric Power Commission, [1977] 1 SCR 500

FACTS:

  • Three young boys were having a competition climbing a poplar tree below a power line. The plaintiff climbed the highest and because of his weight the tree swayed and touched the power line, electrocuting and badly injuring the boy. The defendant relies on Moule in arguing that this was not a reasonably foreseeable consequence.

LEGAL ISSUE:

  • Was it reasonably foreseeable that this poplar tree left untrimmed could cause an accident like this to occur?

HELD:

  • Judgment for plaintiff

RATIO:

  • The accident in the present case was one which could be foreseen and which was almost inevitable when given active boys and a poplar tree running up through and hiding high tension wires, especially when that tree was directly in front of their home
    • Injury in Moule occurred after a long series of circumstances added together

REASONS FOR JUDGMENT:

  • Tree in this case was heavily leafed and left uncut, the wires were concealed to the boys who were carrying out the perfectly normal play of young boys

  • These two cases show that foreseeability is a somewhat arbitrary concept that must be based on the facts of the case

  • The issue of foreseeability of harm is relevant to three elements of a negligence action: duty, standard of care, and remoteness of damages

    • (1) Duty is imposed only if the defendant’s conduct created a foreseeable risk of injury to the plaintiff

    • (2) Probability of injury is one of several factors considered in determining whether the defendant breached the standard of care

    • (3) Plaintiff’s losses will be held to be too remote if they were not a foreseeable result of the defendant’s breach of the standard of care



  • Since the issue of reasonable foreseeability is framed as a hypothetical question (did the defendant’s act create a foreseeable risk of injury?), the fact that injury actually occurred should not colour the resolution of the issue